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The Best Value Cotes du Rhone Ever

Thursday, 11 May 2017 12:26:00 AM Australia/Sydney

Seminaire Cotes du Rhone Rouge Multiple Dozen OfferYou can quote me, "This is the best value Cotes du Rhone you will ever find". 

Cotes du Rhone wines are well known for their affordability, but often that lower price tag comes at a cost in quality. Domaine de Seminaire from a unique and cooler part of the Rhone have managed to produce an affordable red wine that leaves all other wines in its class for dead. I seriously thought I was drinking good Chateauneuf du Pape! 

Here's a little information on the producer and perhaps the key to the wine's astounding quality:

"Unlike the usual warmer Côte du Rhône climates yielding lush fruit, this fourth generation farm is located on 250 acres in the cool foothills of the Alps near the village of Valréas, where the Mistral winds whips through this northeastern corner of the Southern Rhône. A beautiful Provençal house, surrounded by olive and truffle oak trees, lavender fields and thick forest, is the center of this idyllic micro-estate. Hervé Pouizin and his wife, Mathilde have preserved the self-s...

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Comments | Posted in Tasting Notes By Chris Loth

Alsace: The Region and it's Producers

Monday, 8 May 2017 11:02:51 PM Australia/Sydney

The Region

Alsace is a unique French wine region often over shadowed by it's neighbours Burgundy and Champagne. Alsace is famed for producing very aromatic, floral and spicy white wines from its alpine slopes.

Alsace is quite unlike any other wine region in France, it is a amalgamation of both French and German cultures. For centuries the picturesque region was caught in a tug-o-war between the two countries and the German influence is still evident today. The Germanic traditions that are still in place include the flute bottle, varietal labelling and of course the use of the iconic German grape, Riesling. 

Alsace is located in North Eastern France, along the border of Germany. It is the driest wine growing region in France and enjoys a continental climate with considerable seasonal and diurnal temperature swings. These cool nights help to preserve the grape's natural acidity, keeping the wine both fresh and vibrant on the palate. 

The Vosges Mountains are an iconic part of Alsace's terroi...

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Comments | Posted in Tasting Notes By Chris Loth

Luke Lambert 2016 New Release

Monday, 20 February 2017 2:53:49 PM Australia/Sydney

Luke Lambert 2016 New Release

It baffles me why these aren't the most highly sort after Australian wines by the plethora of wine cronies around the country. Where are all the Luke Lambert groupies???


I feel Luke Lambert is a new world man with an old world mind. He is far from outspoken, he rarely steps into the public forum and above all, he produces savoury, structured, elegant and unique wines that speak volumes. This is far from the norm in the Australian wine industry.

These traits may account for why his rise to greatness has been slower than others. When Luke started producing wines in the early 2000s, Australia was plagued by rich, viscous, high-octane, heavily oaked and heavily extracted wines. Most of the talk was about South Australian "ball-busters" (for lack of a better word) and with the drought years (hot vintages) ahead, it was difficult for a young winemaker producing elegant yet complex wines to find their feet.

Since then, Australian wine has taken a turn towards the obscure and fascinating. We...

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Comments | Posted in Tasting Notes By Chris Loth

Chablis 2014 and 2015 Comparison

Tuesday, 7 February 2017 12:16:32 PM Australia/Sydney

Duplessis ChablisChablis 2014 vs 2015

“I am very excited about the Chablis lineup by Gerard Duplessis. The wines are alive and profound – extremely mineral and focused, classic in style and executed with impressive precision. I also love their farming practices (organic) and the fact that they’re still excellent value" - Winemakers to watch by Sommeliers USA

It was only last year that 2014 Chablis exploded into the wine world. It had been too many years since the region was blessed by Mother Nature with a sound growing season. The resulting wines were tense, focused and mineral - Chablis was back!

The recent release of 2015 Chablis brought our curious minds to question the quality of the wines from this year. Vintage reports talked of 2015 as warm where fruit hang-time was shorter than usual, yet near perfect. Then on September 1, moments before harvest, a hailstorm tarnished the reputation of the 2015 vintage in one foul swoop. But how did this affect the quality?

The early arrival of the harvest due to t...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

CRFT Pinot Noir 2015 Release

Tuesday, 4 October 2016 1:10:04 PM Australia/Sydney

CRFT Pinot NoirsAttention Pinofiles! We need your attention for a few moments. We may have discovered the Adelaide Hills best Pinot Noir…

CRFT is a collaboration between winemaking super-couple Candice Helbig and Frewin Ries. Together they are all about small batch, single vineyard, minimal intervention wines from the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and Eden Valley, but most importantly they champion the expression of individual locations within these regions.

The Adelaide Hills is where Candice and Frewin now call home. They recently purchased the Arranmore Vineyard from which they have made wine off for some years now. The Hills is also home to three Pinot Noir sites, and hence three Pinot Noir wines that each express themselves in their individual and unique way. They are one of only a few vignerons in this area who truly believe and display their belief in the terroirs of the Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills. Just one smell of each of their Pinot Noirs is testament to this.

Arranmore Vineyard P...

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Comments | Posted in Tasting Notes By Chris Loth

Top 5 Independent Wine Stores by Roberta Muir

Tuesday, 27 September 2016 12:50:15 PM Australia/Sydney

Annandale Cellars"I love a good bottle shop – it’s as exciting as a fabulous book store or specialist kitchenware shop – once I walk in I can be lost for hours. These stores are owned and staffed by people who are passionate about wine, and passionate about educating us about wine – they run free weekly tastings and have informative newsletters (and while wine’s their focus they do carry great spirits and beer as well). They hand-select what they carry, often from small producers with limited production that don’t sell to the big chains. And while you’ll certainly find bottles here with hefty price tags, you can also pick up something delicious and interesting for under $20. Like all good independent provedores, there’s less of them around these days. So ‘use it or lose it’ – drive past the big faceless liquor chains and seek out an independent bottle shop near you. Support them and benefit from their knowledge and connections. Here are five of my favourites to get you started." Read more here...

Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

The Wanderer: Andrew Marks

Thursday, 28 July 2016 1:00:52 PM Australia/Sydney

The WandererIt is so surprising The Wanderer wines haven't hit the big time around the Sydney traps. People should be knocking down doors to get their hands on these wines. They're some of the best wines Australia has to offer.

Andrew Marks is a Wanderer by trade and by nature. What never wanders is his attention to detail or quality of his wines. The Wanderer Upper Pinot Noir 2013 was the best Australian Pinot Noir we tried this year and we anticipate that the 2014 wine will be at least on par. Come August 1st, we'll be able to tell you first hand!

Andrew has been surrounded by wine all his life. His folks own and operate the famous estate of Gembrook Hill in the cool climate of the Upper Yarra Valley. He also works side by side in the vineyard and winery with none other than Timo Mayer. This being said his style of wines is unique to his site and his touch. They are ethereal wines that show savouriness and focus along with elegance and poise.

There are two designations of The Wanderer:
- Yarra Valle...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

Active Wines - Sicily’s Mount Etna

Monday, 4 July 2016 8:57:18 PM Australia/Sydney

Cornelissen MunjabelThere are two sides to Mount Etna wines – explosive and implosive. We’re here to focus on the explosive wines. These wines of Mount Etna are active and energetic and alive, and that’s what we like to drink.

Where is Mount Etna?

Mount Etna is located in the north-eastern corner of Sicily in Italy’s south. It stands at 3329 meters above sea level, for now, but it is still active and growing. Every so often the volcano has been known to erupt, causing catastrophic damage to the vineyards that gamble their livelihoods on its slopes. The activity of the volcano is a reflection of the activity found in the wines it produces.

Mount Etna’s Climate and Terroir

During the growing season the climate is reflective of most of Sicily with one unique difference. It’s hot and dry as all hell during the day but the altitude of the volcano brings about cooling effects during the evening. It’s this cooling influence that gives these wines their elegance and fragrance. The soils are obviously volcanic which i...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

Paradigm Hill – Flying High

Friday, 1 July 2016 5:07:24 PM Australia/Sydney

Paradigm Hill L'ami SageParadigm Hill is flying high. At about 39,000 feet in fact! The Paradigm Hill L’ami Sage Pinot Noir 2013 has recently been listed on Qantas First Class. This is a mean feat for a winery of such small production. It’s also a great sign of things to come from Qantas as they develop a more complex and independent wine list to show off the country’s best wines to our international guests.

George and Ruth Mihaly are owners, operators, winemakers, viticulturists and all round good people at Paradigm Hill on the Mornington Peninsula. Their small 10 acre, north-facing estate in the Merricks sub-region is planted to Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. It’s a unique terroir of the Peninsula where all the wines show a trademark perfume, texture and elegance.

Here is a list of wines produced from the property:

The Pinot Gris, Riesling, Shiraz and L’Ami Sage Pinot Noir are planted on lighter more alluvi...

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Comments | Posted in Tasting Notes By Chris Loth

Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Wine Writer?

Sunday, 19 June 2016 5:16:16 PM Australia/Sydney

Be A Wine WriterIf you love drinking, tasting and talking about wine – whether that means the best Australian Pinot Noir, top Italian wines in Australia or other varieties – and you can write well, then you might have what it takes to become a wine writer. Here are a few tips for getting started.

What traits do you need?

You might be suited to wine writing if:

  • You have a love of wine and you enjoy talking about wine with others.
  • You regularly read wine reviews and articles or books on wine, or you subscribe to wine publications or websites.
  • You love tasting different wines – and you can actually tell the difference between them!
  • You have a good basic understanding of viticulture and winemaking.
  • Last but not least – you can write well! This means you know your grammar from your grandma and you can spell and put sentences together correctly. It’s also important you can write in an engaging and fun way rather than just put something out that sounds like a school essay.

If you are already a writer or blogger and ...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014 - 99pts Bob Campbell

Wednesday, 8 June 2016 8:43:07 AM Australia/Sydney

Ata Rangi Pinot NoirEvery year Ata Rangi Pinot Noir is released and every year I am comfortable to purchase it before I taste it. Why? The quality is always outstanding and the age-ability of the wines is tremendous.

An example: Six months ago we hosted a vertical of Ata Rangi Pinot Noir dating from 2003-2013. Every wine in that line-up was unique and vintage reflective, but also all the wines showed a high level of quality, which I rarely see in older wines from the region. They were structured and nuanced with both power and finesse. It’s real Pinot Noir.

Just recently the 2014 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir was released in Australia. With the release came some spectacular reviews. Bob Campbell, New Zealand’s top wine critic, awarded the 2014 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir a stellar 99 points. He made sure to mention the wine probably deserved 100 points, but he needed to see the wine in years to come. This was the highest score given to a New Zealand Pinot Noir in the 2014 vintage.

See Bob Campbell’s reviews of 2014 Martinbo...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

The Very Unique Valpolicella

Monday, 9 May 2016 4:05:02 PM Australia/Sydney

Quintarelli ValpolicellaValpolicella is a famous Italian wine-growing region. It's located in the Veneto region, just north of Verona. The vineyards of this region are planted mainly to Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone, Molinara and Oseleta  - varieties that are rarely found outside of Veneto. There are a handful off styles made in the region: Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Ripasso and Valpolicella della Amarone, as well as the fortified Recioto della Valpolicella.

Valpolicella Classico is the entry level, easier drinking wine from the region. The light bodied style came about in the 1960s when the expansion of the region grew to include the flatter, more fertile plains. Eventually, in the 1990s the consumer market began to look for more powerful and concentrated wines, which lead to growth in other wine styles.

Valpolicella Ripasso is a unique style to the region. The red grapes are fermented as per usual, but the finished wine is later passed-over (ripasso) the skins of the Amarone. This technique increase...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

The Vintage Experience - 2016

Monday, 4 April 2016 4:09:24 PM Australia/Sydney

Sam Cornay Foot StompingI got the opportunity to go down to Eden Road for my first vintage earlier this year, to check out how the process works during the busiest time of the year. Chris Loth is again making his wine CLO out of Eden Road, which will be on tasting at Northbridge in the coming weeks.

We were staying at the winery, we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and the winery was pretty deserted except for Mike Lloyd, assistant wine maker who was racking barrels. My first experience to vintage was three frogs in the toilet of our accommodation, which I was informed is a common thing and to watch out for!!! The winery itself is extremely picturesque, with an extensive Cellar Door and great outdoor area, it’s a wonderful destination to pop in and visit if you’re in the area.

I started my first day by climbing inside the press to clean out the skins and stalks, resulting in my clothes becoming absolutely saturated, but it definitely woke me up. After this, Winemaker Nick Spencer put me in charge of foot stomping...

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Comments | Posted By Sam Cornay

Focus - Jura - Dolomies and Lambert

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 11:35:33 AM Australia/Sydney

The Jura is one of the worlds most dynamic wine regions. There are a plethora of natural and sustainable wine producers, as well as a multitude of wine production techniques. These factors take Jura wines to a whole new level - a level of its own. Take a Jura wine today. Feel the experience, live the experience, enjoy the experience. It's wild!

Les Dolomies

Céline Gormally, who created her domain in 2008, lives by the saying from Saint Exupery “The earth is not ours ; but lent to us by our children.”  This rings true in all facets of how she manages her land. A woman of temperamento, she manages around 5ha of vines with the help of her husband Steve. The fields, as she calls them, are looked after without herbicide or pesticide, but with biodynamic principals and compost as fertilizer and distributes it with an Octavia mare between the vines.

Les Dolomies takes its name from the magnesium limestone found in the area. The iridescent marls and limestone outcrops can be found extensively thr...

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Comments | Posted By Chris loth

What size do you choose?

Friday, 18 March 2016 3:05:41 PM Australia/Sydney

Large Format Wine BottlesPeople have been making wine for thousands of years.  The earliest evidence can be traced back to Georgia, where 8,000 year old wine jars were uncovered.
 
So where did the modern day wine bottles originate?
 
Wine was historically stored in vessels, casks or jars and it wasn’t until a few centuries ago that the standard 750ml bottle came about. The bottle known as the ‘fifth’, because it was originally 1/5 of a gallon, was said to be the suitable ration of wine with a man’s dinner. (These days I don’t think your health experts would recommend this amount!) It is also believed this was the largest size glass blowers could form in a single breath at the time.
 
However, history shows that on very special occasions wineries produced extraordinarily BIG bottles, and when I say big, I mean enormous!

So where did the names of these bottles come from?
 
With wine being such a huge part of our history and modern day lives, it is only fitting that we have named them after Biblical Kings from one of the...

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Comments | Posted By Sam Cornay

The Boutique Wine Revolution: Who are the Emerging Stars?

Monday, 14 March 2016 5:37:00 PM Australia/Sydney

Natural CorkYou might not be aware, but we are in the middle of a wine revolution.

A few years ago, the wine industry was dominated by big label wines, but now it appears that not only are artisan or boutique wines becoming more popular among drinkers, their growth is starting to lead to some significant changes in the industry itself.

If you’ve been out to a bar, restaurant or even a bottle shop lately, you’ve probably seen a whole range of smaller, quirky wines on offer alongside the more familiar names. Many of these would be locally produced. From family-run vineyards to those offering organic and natural wines, Australia is emerging as a top producer of unique and unusual drops.

Wine lovers everywhere are drawn to the interesting boutique wines that are coming on the market and the excellent quality and often relative affordability of these smaller label wines make them popular with drinkers of all tastes and budgets.

Boutique wines often come with their own unique story, giving drinkers the oppo...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

An Overview of the Margaret River Region and its Wineries

Tuesday, 1 March 2016 8:01:28 AM Australia/Sydney

Margaret River Wine RegionMargaret River in Western Australia has been producing wine since the 1960s, and has formed a reputation as a producer of high quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and other varieties. There are around 150 wineries in the region, across approximately 5,000 hectares of land.

Climate, soil and activities

The climate in Margaret River has a diurnal range of less than 8°C, which means that frosts are rare and the conditions are mild, and that the region avoids the extremes of scorching summers and freezing winters. Soils vary, but are principally permeable sandy loams formed from granite and rock.

The region also boats plenty for visitors to do and see, including surfing beaches, wildflowers, lighthouses, fishing, beautiful drives and walks, agricultural shows, and wine events – such as the Margaret River Wine Show that has been held in November each year since 2002. This event seeks to promote local wine styles and to provide the opportunity for local growers to ...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

2014 Chablis - It's Back Baby!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 9:22:57 AM Australia/Sydney

Chablis Soil2014 Chablis hits back with a loving line of mineral and acidity like that of the good old days. It's back baby!

If there's one thing to be said about great Chablis it has to be the focused chalky minerality throughout the wine. This is the Chablis of the good old days. You see it on the nose through the often publicised crushed oyster shell analogy and on the palate it's spoken commonly as mineral (unless of course you are against the word itself). When this "minerality" is evident almost nothing in the world of Chardonnay can compare, but when it's stripped of this character it losses its Chablis-ness, becoming flabby, flat and normal. How boring!

In the handful of years leading up to 2014, Chablis had experienced a plethora of vintage conditions. If you read the vintage charts you don't have to look too far into the detail. It simply says - "difficult", "hard", "tough", "disappointing"... just look at Jancis Robinson's review of Burgundy vintages:

2013 
"A disappointment to Burgundy’s C...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

How to drink Orange wine?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016 9:26:46 AM Australia/Sydney

For most people, wine fits in a box, a fairly simple square box. The size of the box is usually determined by grape variety or region or both, and the edges of the box are what hurts us retailers when customers throw the box after having a “different” wine experience. This needs to change, we can’t take the boxes any longer. Enter: The Decagon!

Orange wines and natural wines alike have no rules. The exception to the rule (because there is always one) is: All orange wines must be consumed in the presence of food and friends. Why? You ask.

Orange wines are in vogue at the moment. Not with the general public, but definitely with the new generation of wine lovers and sommeliers that create and sip the premier wine lists around the world. We hope to see these wines stay as a style in their own right and in order to do this they must be approached in the right way. People need to know how to drink orange wine…

An “orange wine” is not from Orange, NSW. That would be called “a wine from Orange”. ...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth

Do You Know What Makes a Bubbly Wine a True Champagne?

Monday, 1 February 2016 8:03:13 PM Australia/Sydney

Champagne has a long history dating back hundreds of years, and today maintains its position as the Rolls Royce of wines. Champagne is very much the drink of choice for special celebrations such as 21st birthdays, engagement parties, weddings, and anniversaries.

At one time in Australia, a lot of white sparkling wines were loosely referred to as Champagne, which is really incorrect. These days, a wine can only be called Champagne if it was produced from grapes grown in France’s Champagne region, using the champagne method or ‘méthode champenoise’.

The grapes used in Champagne

Champagne is produced from black Pinot Noir, black Pinot Meunier and white Chardonnay grapes, which have been grown in the Champagne region according to strict appellation rules. Champagne wines may be produced from Chardonnay alone (Blanc de Blancs), from black grapes (Blanc de Noirs), or from a blend of these varieties.

How Champagne is produced

As mentioned, Champagne must be produced using the French method known a...

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Comments | Posted By Chris Loth
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